Since I began MONOCHROME in 2006, the information that brands disclosed about their watches has improved significantly. Diameter and height are now in pretty much every press release, and so is the actual movement. However, lately, we are often asked about the lug-to-lug size. Something that brands do not communicate about and neither do we. Here’s why.
Over the past decade, communication about watches has improved significantly. Diameter, height and honest information about the movement are now available. Until a few years ago, we were confronted with too many ‘invented’ calibre names, while the movement was often supplied by ETA, Sellita or another third party and subsequently adorned by the brand’s name on the rotor. In-house nowadays really means “in-house” – designed and manufactured by the brand’s own people and machines. Proprietary means designed in collaboration with a third-party movement manufacturer (as the previously mentioned names) and manufactured exclusively for the brand, and thus not available to other brands. Most of this has been ignited by a strong request from collectors and watch enthusiasts, whether through online communications channels like forums or blogs or in direct contact with the brands.
For some time now, we have been getting requests from our readers to mention the lug-to-lug size. We don’t mention this because this information is not provided by the brands and a significant part of our coverage is about new watches that we haven’t handled ourselves, or handled for a few minutes only. Of course, we could mention the lug-to-lug size for the watches that we get for our hands-on reviews, but when we only mention this for the reviewed watches, the other watches that we cover on MONOCHROME won’t feature this information and the available data or specs about the watches would be rather unbalanced.
Besides the rather unbalanced facts of the technical specifications we report on each watch, I see another issue with the lug-to-lug size. And that’s the shape of the case! How a watch wears, or sits on the wrist, can’t always be expressed in a few numbers. The shape of the lugs and the shape of the caseback play a very important role! When the caseback is protruding, even a watch with small lug-to-lug dimensions will wear much larger and sit uncomfortably high on the wrist. Even when the overall height is not too thick, the shape of the lugs is very important.
Since we see and handle so many different watches, the best indication we can give about how a watch wears is to tell you… We will mention the wrist size of the editor and how the watch fits his (or her) wrist and how comfortable it is. Since it’s not possible to judge how a watch really wears on the wrist with a few numbers, this is probably the best service we can offer you.
As an illustration, in order for you to see what we mean and to understand the differences, here is a selection of watches we had in the office, with the lug-to-lug dimensions… But as you’ll see on photographs, even two watches with the same lug-to-lug size don’t wear the same AT ALL. Every watch has been photographed on Brice’s wrist, measuring 16.5cm (a rather small wrist).
- Rolex Explorer – 36mm diameter – 43mm lug-to-lug
- Omega Speedmaster Professional – 42mm diameter – 47mm lug-to-lug
- TAG Heuer Monaco – 39mm diameter – 48mm lug-to-lug
- Seiko Turtle – 45mm diameter – 46mm lug-to-lug
- IWC Portugieser Chronograph Automatic – 40.9mm diameter – 49mm lug-to-lug
- Brellum Duobox Chronograph – 43mm diameter – 51mm lug-to-lug
- Aquadive Bathyscaphe – 43mm diameter – 50mm lug-to-lug
- Hanhart Primus Bronze – 44mm diameter – lug-to-lug depends on the wrist… (articulated lugs) but it can be below 50mm
UPDATE: I’m on vacation right now and limited in the watches that I can photograph to illustrate what I mean. However, with my son’s crocodile ruler, I managed to measure the lug-to-lug size of the watches I have with me.
The lug-to-lug size of the Vertex M100B is 49mm, both Seamasters are 48mm and the Porsche-Design Monobloc… well, with a shaped strap it’s quite difficult to exactly determine the lug-to-lug size.
Here are wrist shots of all four watches, and I think this gives more qualitative information for someone interested in buying this watch than the actual lug-to-lug size… if it’s possible to measure that precisely at all, like with the Monobloc.
Shape of the lugs, length of the lugs, angle of the lugs, material of strap/bracelet, shape of the strap/bracelet and of course the shape of the caseback, all play such an important role in how a watch fits on the wrist.
Since I’m on vacation I do not have access to a Calatrava and a Monaco, to photograph, so here’s my best attempt to show that lug-to-lug size only says so little…
We try our best telling you how it fits on our wrist when we get to try it or have it in for review. This combined with the wrist size of the person who took the wrist shot, says so much more about how the watch is on the wrist.
I do agree that lug-to-lug size can be helpful, especially for people with smaller wrists. It can help determine whether a watch (or rather the lugs) would stick out our not. Our wrist shot and description are, IMHO, more qualitative, and therefore I stick to the point that we do not rely on the simple lug-to-lug size. When watch brands start communicating on lug-to-lug size, we will gladly include this. But please, do not rely on this measurement, as to determine whether a watch would fit nicely or not.